I was a teenager, the Boy Scout troop that I was a member of consisted of
nearly 25 scouts. We had a few older scouts whom the rest of the younger scouts
looked up to, and during our weekend camping trips the seniors made every
effort to scare the beejezus out of us youngsters with ludicrous tales of
ghosts or killers hiding out in the woods. These stories were often woven
around a campfire in the late hours of the evening when we were all seemingly
vulnerable. During the summer of 1980, Sean Cunningham’s Friday the 13th was doing well at the box office, so I was already
aware of these “murderers in the woods”-themed films. This didn’t make it any
easier for us to go on camping trips! The
success of Friday the 13th gave birth
to countless carbon copies of young adults-being-stalked-in-the-woods films.
One such outing is the late Joe Gianonne’s Madman,
a film released in January 1982 by Jensen Farley pictures, a distribution
company responsible for other horror outings including Richard Ciupka’s Curtains (1983). The schematic premise of Madman is so basic and so bereft of suspense (at least by today’s
standards) that I hate to say anything negative about the film, simply because
the cast and crew involved in the making of it and showcased in the
behind-the-scenes extras are just such nice people! The film probably works great for young kids
who have never seen a horror film and are unfamiliar with all the extended
silences and dramatic “stings” that have become clichés that populate the
second half of the film. Madman opens at a campsite with a scene
that appears more silly than sinister. T.P. (Tony Fish) sports a ridiculous belt buckle with his initials on it
and does his best to scare a group of young campers and staff members with a
song about being killed in the woods. One of the leaders of the camp, Max (the late Carl Fredericks), talks
about some nut-job named Madman Marz who supposedly roams the wilderness
waiting for someone to yell out his name so he can wreak havoc on them.
Naturally, this only compels one dope in the group to yell out his name and
make fun of him, challenging Madman Marz to come get everyone prior to an
evening of illicit sex. How Madman eats
and survives the wilderness is never addressed. T.P. has the hots for Betsey
(Gaylen Ross of 1978’s Dawn of the Dead,
inexplicably cast here with the name of Alexis Dubin) and makes no bones about
it in a silly hot tub scene set to yet another song. The rest of the cast are a group of newbies
who are set up for slaughter but their personalities never reach the
likeability factor that Laurie, Linda and Annie reached in Halloween (1978).
is a fair amount of gore spilled in this film and by the end you sort of feel
glad that it’s all over. Madman Marz
could be considered the cinematic brethren of Andrew Garth in Tom DeSimone’s far
more entertaining Hell Night (1981) who
creeps around Garth Manor, or even Victor Crwley in Adam Green’s Hatchet movies. Hell
Night was the first film that Frank Darabont worked on (he’s not a fan of
it!) and it truly deserves a Blu-ray release.
What sets this new Madman DVD/Blu-ray combo set apart is Vinegar Syndrome’s wealth of
extras that appear on both formats:
film boasts two separate running commentaries that run through the entire 90-minute
running time. They feature comments from director Joe Giannone, producer Gary
Sales and actors Paul Ehlers and Tony Fish.
is an intro in HD that runs just under one minute as producer Gary Sales talks
before the Blu-ray presentation.
-Madman: Alive at 35 runs 21 minutes, is shot in HD and
features producer Gary Sales and actors Tom Candela and Paul Ehlers who discuss
the making of the film.
-The Early Career of Gary Sales is an interview with producer Gary Sales.
Shot in HD, it runs 14 min. and 15 seconds in length, but Mr. Sales speaks with
a great deal of energy and explains that he went to film school with director Armand Mastroianniwho,
at that time, had directed He Knows
You’re Alone (1980), a clear Halloween
(1978) rip-off. So, despite the sort
running time, he includes a wealth of info. It seemed like everyone was
making these types of horror films at the time, and Madman is loosely based upon the legend of Cropsey, who became famous in Staten Island,
NY. Mr. Sales also explains how he got his start in the industry by working on
a sex film in New York in 1973 entitled It
Happened in Hollywood. If you were looking to break into the film industry
in the early 1970’s, one way to do it was through the adult film industry. It
was here that he met Wes Craven who edited Hollywood,
as well as Peter Locke. Wes Craven and Peter Locke would go on to make The Hills Have Eyes in 1977, so
networking and making contacts are everything. What makes this
documentary/interview so fascinating is that we are given a first-hand account
by the producer as to what it took for him to not only get into the film
industry, but to get the ball rolling on Madman.
It wasn't like it is today, where somebody can make a film on a cell phone or
an iPad and simply upload it to someone.
-The Legend Still Lives is from 2011, which is strange as Code
Red had just released a 30th anniversary edition DVD at the
time. Shot in SD, it runs an
unbelievable 91 minutes (longer than the movie!) and gives you just about all
you would want to know about the film. Cast
and crew and other experts in the field of horror talk about the film and, in a
maneuver that would make Sean Clark happy, we are taken to the filming
location, only to find that most of the buildings that appeared in the film
have been torn down many years ago.
is a stills & artwork gallery that runs over seven minutes and provides newspaper
ads and reviews.
-Music Inspired by Madman runs just over 13 minutes and consists
of submissions of music by fans. This
film has quite a following!
-In Memoriam runs almost six minutes and discusses
the passing of both Joe Giannone the director Carl Fredericks.
out the extras are brief discussions with Mr. Sales and Mr. Ehlers at a horror
film convention; TV spots, and the theatrical trailer.
I would recommend this to not only fans
of the film, but to fans of the genre who want an insight into filmmaking in
general, and what it took to get a film like this made in the